THE NILGIRIS: It's fitting that the cosy cottage nestled in a tea estate is named Sans Souci — meaning ‘without a worry'

Sans Souci is a tea estate nestled in the tranquil hills of The Nilgiris. Its cottage is simple and rustic — it's essentially a one-room living space divided by furniture into a bedroom, a living-cum-dining room and a kitchenette. Right outside the cottage is the famed Monkey Puzzle Tree, one of the tallest around (in fact, so tall it can be seen from Coonoor, eight km away!). And, in front of it is an old Victorian water tank, into which drops crystal-clear water from rock springs in the property. Fascinatingly, the water used in Sans Souci is supplied by mountain springs. So, as you unwind amidst all these, you realise the name is fitting — Sans Souci means ‘without a worry'.

Its soothing charm apart, the property, one of the oldest in the Nilgiris, has its share of history too — it was handed over to William Mullaly by the Right Honourable Secretary for State of India on December 9, 1871. Since then, the place has whittled down from 30 acres to a mere one-and-a-half, and has passed through many hands — with interesting and intriguing stories to go with. For instance, one of the owners, Thomas Brown is said to have willed the property to a woman called Miss Jackson and her infant daughter “for grievous wrongs done to her”. It was a convalescent home for British soldiers during World War II.

One of the owners of Sans Souci was Ernst Fritchi, a celebrated Swiss botanist. He gave the property its name and is credited with turning it into a fabulous botanical garden. Unfortunately, only a few of them remain — including the Monkey Puzzle Tree. The Catholic Bishop of Ootacamund sold the property to V. Srinivasan, the father of the current owner Sunitha Srinivasan.

Interestingly, much earlier, Nilgiris was part of Tipu Sultan's revenue collection area, and he had the Pakasuramalai Fort within trekking distance of where Sans Souci now lies. This fort served as a lookout point, and a cannon fired from here would warn the sentries of approaching enemies. Well, legend has it that Tipu Sultan buried the gold reserves of Seringapatam on the property that later became Sans Souci!

Things to do

Treks around the property take you to the Echo Rock, a Toda village, and to the remains of Tipu Sultan's fort

Go on walks to spot bears, bison, peacocks and hares

Visit a tea factory

Or, just read a book

Best time to go

From February to September when the temperature is between 18 and 22 degrees. From October to December, it's rainy and cold, with temperatures known to touch zero.

How to go

It is eight km from Coonoor and 60 km from Coimbatore, by road. Pick up and drop can be provided from Coimbatore / Mettupalayam. For details, call 80414-66793 / 99005-90737.

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